Kingaroy Court House
Kingaroy Court House

Coroner questions paperwork over truck safety

FOLLOWING a fatal traffic crash in 2014, a rural supply business could not present paperwork proving one of its trucks was safe to drive.

Irregularities in the company's record keeping was one of the main avenues of questioning at a coronial inquest into the death of Stephen Ross Brown, held in Kingaroy over the past month.

On August 27, 2014, Mr Brown was driving a Goldmix truck carrying stockfeed to a South Burnett farm when a rear suspension spring broke and he crashed. He died a few hours later.

The court heard the spring could have broken on impact when the truck left the Gayndah-Murgon Rd and hit an embankment, or it could have broken at an earlier time leaving a secondary spring to carry a load beyond its capacity.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Megan Jarvis, asked the man's boss Adrian Niemann about truck maintenance records and any compliance issues related to the fleet.

He also questioned what paperwork Mr Niemann was shredding in the hours after the crash.

Mr Niemann said he collected documents from the scene of the crash and took them back to his office.

He couldn't recall if any of the documents he picked up at the scene of the crash related to the condition of the truck.

"I wouldn't have a clue, I was cleaning the site, picking stuff up, it went in a bag and went back to the office," Mr Niemann said.

Ms Jarvis said witnesses later heard Mr Niemann shredding documents in his office.

Mr Niemann said he often shredded sensitive documents but could not recall what he destroyed that day.

Counsel representing Mr Brown, Mark Evans, questioned Mr Niemann over inconsistencies in non-compliance report records.

Mr Evans said Mr Brown was concerned about problems with the company's record keeping so he made duplicates of all non-compliance reports which he kept in a blue folder in his truck.

He took these copies home every night.

The Coroner heard evidence about the condition of the truck's right rear leaf spring.

Inspections after the crash showed significant polishing near the site of the break in the spring, suggesting it had snapped in the days and weeks leading up to the crash.

If this was the case then the broken spring would have put excessive pressure on the backup springs which may have failed in the moments before the crash.

Mr Brown told paramedics, in the hours before he died, that he heard a loud bang and the truck went to the right.

The court heard this would have been consistent with a break in the suspension springs.

The condition of the road along with Mr Brown's health and experience were also floated as contributing factors in the crash.

The Coroner is expected to hand down his findings in the coming weeks.

South Burnett

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